For many years after becoming a new christian, I loved reading about the bold prophets like Moses and Elijah. They were real life super heroes in my book. I loved how they spoke truth and defied the idol worshipers. I admired them so much that I said to myself I was going to be like them.
As I grew older in the LORD, I found that telling people the truth was not always so exciting or adventurous. People who I wanted to like me were not receptive to the truth. They found a way to reinterpret Jesus’ words to mean that He really wanted us to go along to get along. They conveniently left out most of His caustic and very pointed words.
Prophets aren’t pretty. They say really offensive things. They spoil parties by pointing out the abject idolatry. They remind you that you are not obeying God but rather following the idols of your own heart. They make you uncomfortable with your sin, They can’t seem to come in and play church like the rest and shut up their mouths about truth and righteousness.
We have entered the time when God is going to bring a new thing: a new dispensation. We are going to see prophets sent from God come out with trumpet blasts, telling the people of God their sin. It is time now to take a reality check. What are prophets really like? What do they say? How will people react to them and will we accept them and stand with them? Let us look back over the ancient account of the beloved heroes of old and imagine what it would be like to know them personally.
Noah the Nutty Neighbor
Imagine Noah as your neighbor. You have probably known him for hundreds of years. His land abuts yours. He starts to build something on his land. You think maybe a hay barn or wine press but it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. He keeps working on it for 100 years. There is no man-made structure like it in the whole earth. Everybody is so curious about this strange thing. “Noah! What ARE you doing” “Well,God told me to build an ark so that I can put two of every kind of animal in it because He is going to flood the whole earth.” You have never heard anything so ridiculous in your whole life and neither has anyone else. You start making jokes about Noah. He’s off his rocker. You tease him. “Hey Noah, better hurry up. It looks like rain.” And he is an embarrassment to the whole community.
I wonder what his sons thought while they were building this. In those days, you made your livelihood together with your family. Did God place this vision on the sons too? Were they just building it because the patriarch made the unilateral decision they were going to do this? What did the sons think of the jesting from the neighbors? How did they take being considered weird? It took 100 years. That is a long time to be doing something that seems so outrageous in the eyes of your peers.
Abram the Idol Smasher
This account is from the book of Jasher. Jasher is not part of our accepted canon of the Bible but it is mentioned in Judges and 2 Samuel. I find this story amusing.
Abram asked his father, Terah “Where is God who created heaven and earth, and all the sons of men…and who created you and me?” Terah took him into his house to an inner court and showed him numerous images of wood and stone and he bowed down to them.
Later, Abram went to his mother and asked her to make some savory meat that he might take to the gods as an offering. He took the food into them and found they could not eat it. So he got a hatchet and destroyed all the idols except the greatest one. In the hands of this one, he laid the hatchet. As he was leaving, his father came in the house. Hearing the racket, he ran to the room and saw all his idols broken on the floor. He turned to Abram and asked him why he had done this to his gods.
Abram told him he did not do it at all but rather had taken a food offering to them. All the lesser gods reached for the food before the greatest god did and made him mad so he got a hatchet and destroyed the rest of them and indeed the hatchet was still in his hands.
So imagine big brother comes home from college where he has just dedicated his life to Jesus. He comes into his father’s cinema room where the family watches all sorts of movies and sports and totally demolishes the huge flat screen. This guy’s family is going to be extremely angry with him. He will be expected to buy a new screen (and fast before the next big game). What will people say on facebook about this guy?
Moses the Party Crasher
We remember the account of Moses coming down the mountain with the stones carved by the finger of God and finding the whole nation of Israel wildly cavorting in debauchery. He commands their attention, rebukes them and makes them repent. But they were having so much fun! Everyone was in on it including his own brother who made the golden calf. Everyone means no one was sitting out. That means that if any of us were there, we would have been in on the debauchery.
The people grumbled a lot to Moses during their life in the dessert. They did not like how this God whom they could not see or hear was treating them. One time they even threatened to choose a new leader and go back to Egypt.
Gideon was another who tore down his father’s idol. He was on everyone’s black list after that. The interesting thing about one of these idols is that it was an Asherah pole. Many in churches today worship asherah, the fertility goddess (same as Ishtar or Easter) and don’t realize it because the profane has taken the place of the holy and since these churches refuse to study the Word of God, they confuse the two.
Elijah the Wild Man
One of my favorite stories is when Elijah opposed the prophets of Baal and Asherah. He challenged them to make a burnt offering of bulls to their gods but not start the fire to burn it. They must call on their gods to kindle the fire and he would do the same. The god who consumed the offering by fire, He was God. Elijah spoke to the people of Israel and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is god, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.
There were 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. They danced and cried out to their gods all day while the crowds watched on. Nothing happened to the sacrifice. At the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah prepared the alter of God. He laid wood on it and then the sacrifice. Then he commanded water to douse the wood and offering. Three times people poured water over it. Elijah then lifted his hands toward heaven and thanked God for His goodness. Immediately the offering, wood, and water surrounding the alter were consumed.
Then there was the time that the king was looking for him. He sent a commander of 50 men to take him and bring him in. Elijah commanded lightening to come down and killed all the men. The king, undaunted (and no respecter of people) sent another commander with 50 men. Elijah did the same thing. The king dispatched a third group. This time the commander asked Elijah for mercy for his men and not kill them and please come see the king. Elijah complied. This guy was rough stuff.
There are so many of these brave, bold men in scripture (check out 1 Kings 22 for one of my absolute favorite stories about one true prophet who defied a room full of false prophets) but I will only touch on 2 more in my next post. I want to get this out now because as I said, we are coming into a time when the LORD is pouring out his spirit on us. We are beginning to see many like these not so pretty prophets come on the scene. And they are causing a stir.
“Shout it aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.” Isaiah 58:1